Preserving Oil Paint for Artists

Saving Oil Paint

Let’s face it oil paints are expensive, but it’s not only the need to save money that drives us to preserve our oil paint, sometimes its out of convenience too. Mixing up that perfect colour can be really time consuming and it can be really troublesome to have to mix it up again at a later stage of your painting.

Preserving premixed colours and colours already laid out on your palette is a popular conversation among artists.  My solution has been to use a glass palette that has a perfect. snug fitting, closable plastic box. For more on my glass palette setup I’ve written a blog post here: Benefits of a Glass Palette for Oil Painting


Using My Boxed Glass Palette

About half an hour before I begin painting I take my palette box out of the freezer and open it up to let any moisture that’s built up on the glass surface dry off and air. I also let the oil paints come back up to room temperature.


Preserving paint on your palette.

Clove Oil

If, for any reason, I don’t have space in my freezer or I’m painting sporadically, you can preserve your paints with Clove oil. Do not add this to your paint!!  Simply the fumes from the clove oil will help to slow down the oxidization process.

Not everyone’s fond of the smell but it does work well and is very economical. Just place a few drops on a scrap of cloth, tissue or similar and keep it under, or to the side of your palette, close to, but not with your oil paint. It helps to seal the palette with the clove oil in an airtight box like the Tiger Box I have used.

You can usually pick up a bottle at your local pharmacy or Amazon sells lots of options like this one: Clove Oil

Immersing in Water

Providing your palette is impervious to water you can immerse the whole thing in a tub of water. The logic behind this is that it removes the air from around the pools of paint, thus preventing oxidization.

Just ensure that the palettes surface and all droplets of water have been completely eliminated prior to a painting session.

Poppy Oil

A good friend of mine who has limited freezer space and a total dislike of clove and lavender, sprays over her palette in a really fine mist of Artists Poppy oil. Her poppy oil mixture is 80% oil and 20% Sansador by Winsor and Newton. She finds this very thin mist helps to slow down the skinning over of the paint’s surface.


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